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Seamans: Resolving To Be Civil

01/06/10 7:55AM By Bill Seamans
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(HOST) Commentator Bill Seamans has made a resolution - to promote civility in the year ahead.

(SEAMANS) For years I have skipped the annual guilt list of things I want to put right but never do - remember those promises you made with the best of intentions?

But this year, impelled by my pledge of Full Disclosure, I admit that I have broken down and made a promise - however loaded with frustrated idealism - a promise to keep trying to rouse my fellow citizens to speak out against the assault on civility - also to strongly criticize the news media's mantra of "being fair," which encourages lethargy among those who should be persuaded to loudly oppose the increasingly vocal hate mongers.

Our culture of communicating with integrity, respect and courtesy, in the opinion of many, is being virtually destroyed.  Those voices are fighting a losing battle against the noise of hatred.  Has Free Speech in the political and civil forums been turned into Foul Speech?  Does Free Speech imply that we are impelled to wallow with the lowest common denominator?

The traditional respectful decorum in Congress was shattered when a member shouted out that President Obama was lying during a major speech.  Disrespect for the whole spectrum of high authority has filtered down through our culture all the way to the students who disrespect their teachers - "If a Congressman can say that, why can't I !"  The teacher who strives to teach is overwhelmed by fanatic politicians, racism, sexism, anti-religionism, revisionism, conspiracy theories and the words most frequently used by toxic talkers - "hate," "panic" and "failure."

It has been written that the lack of civility is the disregard for facts.  That without facts there is no persuasion.  Debate plus civility is dialogue, and that produces compromise which is what permits people of good conscience to live peacefully with one another even though they hold different views.  Is that our civility atmosphere today?  And it's expected to get even worse as we approach the 2012 Presidential election.

We have read the warnings of philosophers that we must speak up "before it's too late" - which is a benchmark we really are not aware of until it has passed and we lament - "I wish I had spoken up!"  President Obama in his d Dame speech said, "One of the things I'm trying to figure out is how to make sure that civility is interesting."  I think we the people are asking for more - that is if we don't try to understand and respect others, how can we expect them to respect us?  And that the people we send to Washington also should respect us.

So my New Year promise is to try to persuade our leading citizens to speak out loudly and forcefully against the erosion of civility in our public discourse.  We the people must shake off our lethargy and join the battle to save civility - before "it's too late!"
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